DIY Water Purifiers (Save $$$)

DIY Water Filters

My neighbor just spent $4,449 on a water filter. I couldn’t believe it. That’s a whole lot of money to spend on clean water. Of course it’s essential, still… this investment was way over his budget, but his mother is sick and he wanted to make sure the water she drinks doesn’t make it even worse. So it’s understandable why he’d be willing to spend so much on a filter.

It’s important to know what you are getting when purchasing water filter. There are so many out there claiming they can turn your water into purity itself, but some of them skip over details, like heavy metal traces, fluoride or even parasites such as giardia (the most common parasite found in U.S. tap water).

So why pay so much on water that only looks crystal clear, but it’s not actually pure? Better save a load of money and make yourself a water filter from scratch, for just a fraction of the retail price. Another benefit is that you can make a bigger filter, if you want to clean a large amount of water… or you can make a bunch of small ones and place them around the house, wherever you need them.

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One of the best filters on the market in my view is the awesome Berkey Water Purifier. However this will set you back somewhere around $200-300+, depending on which size you get and which filter add-ons. They are great, but this got me thinking about creating a “low tech version”. Turns out you can – and not only this but you can make one for less than half the price – if you are prepared to skip the stainless steel and use some other readily available parts…

Here’s how you can make your own low-tech version at home, without going store to store, looking for the best price.

You’ll need some Berkey filter parts, but you won’t spend your whole paycheck on a name brand, that’s for sure. This is where you can get the filters (still around $100) and spigot kit: or here to get just the special carbon block filters on amazon

And this is the complete step-by-step tutorial I found on Instructables:

Step 1: Selecting the Buckets

Food grade buckets are recommended. These can be purchased online, or you can get used ones at restaurants. These are more cost efficient, but any stackable bucket with lids from 3 gallon to 6 gallon, round or square can be used.

Step 2: Top bucket modifications

You’ll need to drill two 1/2″ holes through the bottom of the top bucket and the lid of the bottom bucket. Then you insert the two Berkey filters into the top bucket with the rubber grommet between the bucket and the filter. Tighten the nuts on the filter shafts with the lid between the nuts and the bottom of the top bucket. At the end it’s supposed to look like this:

Top bucket modifications1

Top bucket modifications


It may seem complicated, but once you start working on it, it will be a lot simpler than you thought.

Step 3: Modifying the bottom bucket

Now you have to drill a 3/4″ hole near the bottom of the bottom bucket, high enough so the spigot clears the bottom of the bucket. Two to three inches is usually sufficient. Install the spigot kit, with washers on both sides and nut on the inside.

Like this:

Modifying the bottom bucket


Step 4: Finished

That’s how they should look when you’re all done:

Berkey Water Purifier


I have two of these at home and they work just fine.

If you are interested in taking this a step further, there are no doubt mods you can make that enable the carbon block filters to be used to process larger volumes of water – notably using larger containers if required.

Home-made gravel-type filters: I tried to build a large gravel-sand-and-cotton filter in my yard, too, but the water had this weird orange colour, so I couldn’t use it. The clay recipient wasn’t good (how can a clay recipient NOT be good… but anyway) so until I find a better one and test it, I’ll show you how to make your own…

Travel Water Filter

Travel Water Filter


It’s really easy to make and you can find these materials anywhere in the world (ok, maybe not in Antarctica), so if you think tap water is questionable, just make one of these filters.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2-liter plastic bottle, cleaned and rinsed
  • Coffee filter
  • Rubber band
  • 2 – 4 Cotton balls
  • Activated charcoal, available at drug stores or pet shops (in the aquarium section)
  • Fine sand
  • Coarse sand
  • Fine gravel
  • Coarse gravel

And here are the instructions:

  • Cut the bottle. Carefully cut off the bottom third of the 2-liter bottle, keeping both pieces.
  • Prepare the filter. Wrap the coffee filter over the neck of the bottle and hold it in place with the coffee filter. Place a few cotton balls in the neck of the bottle to act as a plug.
  • Fill the filter. Add one cup of each of the filter materials in the following order: fine sand, activated charcoal, coarse sand, fine gravel and coarse gravel.
  • Clean the filter. Slowly pour one to two gallons of clean tap water into the filter, allowing it to drain completely.
  • Position the filter. Place the neck of the bottle into the bottom half of the bottle so that the filter sits upright.

Now pour water slowly into the top of the filter, and it will collect in the bottom half of the bottle.

Important note – these filters should remove particulate matter and many dissolved chemicals like pharmaceuticals, pesticides. However they are not guaranteed to take out bacteria. So if you think the water may be biologically contaminated, boil it before drinking, just to be safe.

If you’ve got your own tutorials, tips or knowledge for a DIY water filter, please share it with all of us in the comments section. Until next time, stay safe!


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2 Responses to DIY Water Purifiers (Save $$$)

  • This is a nice inexpensive homemade water filter. Probably the best part of it is that there are no expensive filters to buy. I think that is the worst part of commercial filter systems. The filters are where the companies make their money which cost almost as much as the filter housing did initially. So making your own filter like this makes complete sense. Great article.

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